Published: Sat, April 10, 2021

Biden forms commission to tackle Supreme Court reform -- which may include expansion

Biden forms commission to tackle Supreme Court reform -- which may include expansion

The 36-member commission will be co-chaired by former White House Counsel under President Barack Obama, Bob Bauer, who now serves as the Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University School of Law, and Yale Law School Professor Cristina Rodriguez, who previously served as deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, also under Obama.

The Constitution does not specify how many judges should serve on the high court, though the court has had nine members for decades.

Senate Republicans at the time, led by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said it would be inappropriate to confirm a justice during a presidential election year.

Democrats accused Republicans of hypocrisy previous year when the Senate quickly confirmed Trump's appointment of conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett a week before the presidential election after the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg the prior month.

During the campaign, Biden repeatedly sidestepped questions on expanding the court. The commission will be co-chaired by NYU School of Law professor and former White House counsel Bob Bauer and Yale Law School professor Cristina Rodriguez, who served as a deputy assistant AG for the Justice Department.

The 36-member commission, composed largely of academics, was instructed to spend 180 days studying proposed changes, holding public meetings and completing a report.

"California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise", allowing hair salons, retail stores, and movie theaters, among other places, "to bring together more than three households at a time", the unsigned order from the court said.

After the death of the liberal Ginsburg and the confirmation of the conservative Barrett to her seat on the court, the dynamic shifted.

Biden Announces Executive Order Creating Commission to Study Expanding Number of Supreme Court Justices

Before the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Roberts and liberal justices formed a majority that generally left the issue up to elected officials, saying judges don't have the expertise or power to overrule decisions made with the public's health in mind.

The last attempt to expand the court was a failed effort in the 1930s by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt after a series of rulings frustrated some of his policies.

Biden pledged to create the commission during an October television interview.

The 82-year-old Breyer is the court's oldest member and the senior member of its three-justice liberal wing.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told Doocy that while looking into court packing was one of the things the commission would be looking into, that would not be the entirety of their research. If Breyer retires this year, as liberal activists have urged him to do, Biden would make his first appointment to the high court. "But that authority, like the rule of law, depends on trust, a trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics".

Republicans fiercely oppose the idea of what is sometimes called "court packing".

Among likely voters, 58% said Democrats should not look to increase the size of the Supreme Court, while only 31% said they were in favor of it, Fox News reported that the time.

The White House said the commission would address the Supreme Court's role in the Constitutional system, the length of terms of Supreme Court justices, and the number of justices on the Supreme Court. "It also raises serious red flags as to what unconstitutional actions President Biden is planning that a more favorable Supreme Court might tolerate".

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